At the halfway stage of the season, leaders Great Ayton hold a crucial 21-point margin over second-placed Barnard Castle and they welcome in-form Marton to Leven Park. Ayton have only lost once this season, and are looking very strong in all departments.

Marton will be delighted at their efforts after promotion last season. With five wins under their belts and three draws, with only two defeats, skipper Alex Wardell said: “We will be unchanged following our home win over Darlington, last Saturday. We have now had two very good wins on the trot and will be looking to test ourselves, against the league leaders. It should be a very entertaining game.”

Champions Barnard Castle are in great form at present and lie second. They travel to second-bottom Seaton Carew, who are 13 points shy of safety. Seaton skipper Paul Braithwaite said: “We are without Stuart Lobb and David Seymour, but returning will be Danny Black and Danny Thomas to replace them.”

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Barney skipper James Finch said: “James Alderson returns after injury to replace Greg Upton. We have had two good league victories in a row and are hoping to carry on in a positive fashion. We have still not hit anywhere near top form yet and take confidence from the fact we are winning, when not at our best!”

Stokesley are just two points behind Barney in third place as they take on Norton. The hosts are buoyed after reaching the Kerridge Cup final, with a comprehensive victory over Barney, avenging their their league defeat last weekend.

Richmondshire, in fourth, travel to Marske who make two changes, with Chris Witherley and Sam Berry in for Jack English and Harry Peirson. Skipper Lee Hodgson remarked: “We come up against an in-form Richmondshire team, but we are also playing some good cricket at the minute and will be looking to keep the momentum going.”

Middlesbrough have dropped to fifth and they entertain Hartlepool at Acklam Park.

The Park Drive outfit make two changes, with the unavailable John Watson and Neil Coverdale replaced by Sam Harris and ex-first team captain Jack Wilkinson.

Darlington entertain Guisborough and have a 25-point advantage over the Priorymen, who are hovering just 13 points above the relegation trapdoor.

Skipper Garry Moody said: “Grant Sowerby is not available, so his place goes to James Sutton, who is returning from holiday. We are expecting a tough game, against a very experienced Guisborough side.”

Chris Nicholls, the director of cricket for the Priorymen, said: “We are delighted to have new signing Shaun Charlton from Richmondshire and he goes straight in to the team. Tom Gittins and Stephen Turner also return.

“The team are looking to step up from their performance against Middlesbrough last weekend. Darlington are always a tough team to play against, but we think we can get a result.”